Irresponsible with guns

The year got off to a bang-literally. In my home state of Minnesota a homicide/suicide took the lives of 2. 

Authorities say up to 20 relatives, ranging in age from kids to the elderly, had gathered at the family matriarch’s house to celebrate the holiday when shooting broke out. Larry Klimek, 54, of Minneapolis was killed with his 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter nearby, their mother said Wednesday. The boy called 911 to report that his uncle had shot his father, who was bleeding inside the home, according to emergency dispatch audio.

How do things like this even happen? What brings a man who may or may not have obtained his guns legally or may or may not have had a permit to carry them around decide to kill his brother and then himself in front of a roomful of people?

It’s an American tragedy. Only in America do we need to keep daily track of shootings. Only in America do gun rights = not passing strong gun laws to prevent shootings.

When someone buys a gun, hopefully legally, it should be a given that they will be responsible for taking good care with it. It is a lethal weapon designed to kill. No one should act cavalierly around guns. And when a gun is available, no one should use it in anger, when depressed, when under the influence of alcohol, or otherwise incapacitated. Moments of despair or anger turn deadly in seconds when a loaded and unsecured gun is available. Responsible gun owners must store guns away and think about the risks involved. Common sense needs to be practiced.

There are 2 paths to gun ownership. Being careful and responsible or not.

Too often the wrong path is taken resulting in senseless and avoidable deaths and injuries.

When guns become a symbol for freedom, or a product of revenge and anger they can also become just another thing and people act cavalierly around them. When gun rights are taken literally as a right to do anything with a gun, then they can also become a way to exhibit rights without responsibilities.

What else could bring someone to senselessly shoot bullets into the air to celebrate New Year’s Eve? It’s pretty basic physics to understand that something that is shot into the air will come down again somewhere. That somewhere this year was in the head of a 6 year old California girl celebrating New Year’s Eve with her family.

Police are blaming all of the bullets on celebratory gunfire. Amazingly, the child is going to okay. The bullet is still in her head and may never be removed. (…) The chief also said the girl’s parents are shaken.

“Put the guns down,” Chief Kirkpatrick said. “It is foolishness. It is unnecessary.”

Foolishness is a mild term for what happened. It could have been another tragic death and left a little girl forever changed as it did for my friend Joe Jaskolka who was struck by a celebratory bullet in 1998. Nothing has been the same for Joe or his family since he was struck in the head by a bullet.

And shaken is also a mild word for how the parents and family must feel about a bullet lodged in the brain of their little girl. Future problems, including lead poisoning, could occur and cause more difficulties for them.

2019 has started with the same bang that ended 2018. The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of daily incidents with guns and the cumulative numbers as the year goes on. Here are up to the day figures already for 2019:

We are better than this. Please support efforts of gun safety reform groups to prevent and reduce gun injuries and deaths. Lives depend on what we do and 2019 is a year that we can bring change to the ubiquitous narrative and to our gun laws.

Hillary derangement syndrome

derangedSome people hate Hillary Clinton. They hate her with a fervor that is unreasonable and over the top. Often there is no reasoning with these folks, many of them Bernie Sanders supporters. I just can’t figure out that kind of hatred. I don’t hate Bernie Sanders. I don’t hate Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Donald Trump. I vehemently disagree with their policies and their tactics. And I am actually fearful for our country if Donald Trump were to be elected our President. It is beyond my capability to comprehend that this could happen.

I happen to support Hillary Clinton. Her positions fall into line with mine, for the most part. Especially her views about guns and gun violence. There are a few things on which I will disagree with her. No politician is pure. They disappoint us because we want them to represent everything we believe. We want to trust them. And then reality happens. Debate happens. Compromise happens. And soon enough, we are not happy.

Wayne LaPierre and the gun rights extremists have had Obama derangement syndrome since the day he was elected ( or before). Claims of gun confiscation and hysteria over gun rights have been flung around for 8 years. Interestingly, guns have not been confiscated nor have rights been taken from anyone but those who should not have guns.

I wrote in my last post about some people who should not have guns- domestic abusers. There are too many deaths of American (mostly) women every day because an angry, deranged, suicidal, depressed, drunk or otherwise spouse, partner, ex spouse, ex partner, sibling or other family member had access to a gun. Tragedies are happening all around us. And we are turning our heads. Actually most people feel helpless to do anything until we educate them and they realize that guns in the home are more dangerous for homicide, suicide and accidental shootings than for self defense. This new article from The Trace confirms this:

A recent study published in The Journal of Preventive Medicine offers new support for the argument that owning a gun does not make you safer. The study, led by David Hemenway, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examines data from the National Crime Victimization Survey — an annual survey of 90,000 households — and shows not only that so-called “defensive gun use” (DGU) rarely protects a person from harm, but also that such incidents are much more rare than gun advocates claim.

A 2014 Gallup poll suggests that Americans increasingly perceive owning firearms as an effective means of self-defense — having a gun makes one less likely to become a victim of a crime. But as Hemenway’s study demonstrates, this belief is not supported by crime statistics. Contrary to what many gun advocates argue, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data reveals that having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation.

Perception is not reality. Facts matter as it turns out and can save lives. More from the article:

In his new NCVS study, Hemenway also found that defensive gun use is exceedingly infrequent. While smaller private surveys estimated that there are up to 2.5 million DGUs on an annual basis, the NCVS data indicates that victims used guns defensively in less than 1 percent of attempted or completed crimes, with an annual total of less than 70,000. (…)

The only thing we can know for sure is what we have empirical data on: Namely, that there is a reliable floor for defensive gun use estimates at around 1,600 a year. In addition, according to the most recent data on defensive gun use, we have reliable evidence showing that owning a firearm does not give individuals any significant advantage in a criminal confrontation, and they are no less likely to lose property or be injured by using a gun in self defense.

This being the case, why take the chance that something like this awful tragedy in Minnesota could happen to your family. From the story:

Everyone in the community is struggling to explain what would cause the 17-year-old boy, David Cunningham to do this. His father, Tom Cunningham, didn’t want to speak on camera. But he gave us some clues about his son’s growing despondence.

Tom Cunningham is trying desperately to cope with the horrifying scene. Returning from town, he saw the family’s German shepherd dead on the back step. Inside lay the bodies of his two teenage children.

“No, we have no motive at this point,” Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said.

Two teens are dead. A 17 year old boy was despondent. He had access to a gun. More investigation will reveal what kind of gun it was and where it came from. And now another family and community are devastated. Guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill. And kill they do. Yes, a gun by itself doesn’t kill  unless there is some sort of discharge of a gun that ends up killing some by accident like this one where an Iowa Veteran dropped a gun that discharged and the bullet killed him. This is only one of many like this. People with guns kill many people and themselves every day in our country. They are not killing people very often with knives, hammers, clubs, chairs, or other heavy items. It’s the guns.

And I can’t leave this topic until I write about the one of the Washington man taking a selfie with a gun who ended up dead as a result.  Uffda. Be careful out there.

So what does any of this have to do with Hillary derangement syndrome? Mr. Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA is at it again. He delivered yet another speech at this year’s CPAC conference making old, tired and false claims about Hillary Clinton coming for your guns. Let’s take a look at what he said:

The trigger-happy head of the National Rifle Association warned women Thursday that they face a dangerous future should Hillary Clinton wind up in the White House.

“All of America’s women, you aren’t free if you aren’t free to defend yourself,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said during a rambling speech Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. “If President Obama, Hillary Clinton or anyone else denies you that right, they don’t really care about you at all.”

Good grief. Is he serious? Women in America are more likely to be shot and killed by a partner than in any other democratized country in the world. But never mind. Common sense is not one of LaPierre’s strong suits. More from the article:

LaPierre, speaking at a conference hall where weapons were banned, took aim at Clinton, telling the Democratic front-runner to “bring it on” in the fight over gun control.

“All of America’s women, you aren’t free if you aren’t free to defend yourself,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said during a rambling speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“All of America’s women, you aren’t free if you aren’t free to defend yourself,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said during a rambling speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Mrs. Clinton, if you want to come after the NRA, and if you want to fight over the God-given rights of America’s 100 million gun owners, if you want to turn this election into a bare-knuckled brawl for the survival of our constitutional freedoms, bring it on,” LaPierre said. “We aren’t going anywhere, and we aren’t hard to find.”

Is this a challenge? And God-given? Find me a place in the Bible or other religious writings about guns being given to people by God. This is stupid and dangerous rhetoric and also ludicrous. LaPierre just can’t fathom that people who want to pass laws to prevent shootings aren’t coming for his guns. American women should be very afraid when Wayne LaPierre ramps up fear and paranoia as he does when he speaks.

In another article about LaPierre’s speech, Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence says it all:

Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said: “It’s the same populist, fear-mongering speech. It’s amazing to me that Wayne LaPierre has been making the same speech for 25 years. We have a complex problem of gun violence in America and the only come to the table with: ‘We need more freedom.’ It sounds more hollow every time he says it.”

More reaction from his speech addresses the reality of gun violence in American and the total obstruction of the gun lobby to do anything real about it:

LaPierre’s remarks were condemned by the Newtown Action Alliance, a gun control pressure group formed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings. It’s chairperson, Po Murray, said: “Wayne LaPierre supported universal background checks until the NRA decided to pursue an extreme agenda of arming anyone, anywhere and everywhere. He will say and do anything to elect a president who will promote the gun lobby’s efforts to put guns everywhere in a greedy pursuit of corporate profits for the gun industry. His job is to fire up the NRA supporters with fear, lies and rhetoric.

“Currently, Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who stands with the families and communities impacted by gun violence. She is pushing for sensible gun laws. Justice Antonin Scalia stated, ‘Like most rights, the right secured by the second amendment is not unlimited …’ and Connecticut passed the second strongest gun laws after the Sandy Hook tragedy.”

Murray added: “Meanwhile, the NRA is aggressively pursuing an agenda to put guns on campuses and allowing anyone to carry guns without permits. In an era of increased mass shootings, voters have a clear choice this November. We choose Hillary Clinton.”

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, rather than armed security guards protecting children from a shooter, which has not happened once since that shooting, this has happened instead:

A gun of a security guard was left in a school bathroom.

An officer’s gun discharged in a school.

But never mind. LaPierre said this about children and school shootings:

Recalling the shooting of 20 young children and six of their adult carers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut in 2012, LaPierre said the NRA was unfairly attacked and blamed. “I simply and honestly proposed that our schools, our children, should be protected at least as much as our jewellery stores or banks or stadiums, and maybe the Oscars in Hollywood the other night. The national news media savaged me. What parent wouldn’t feel safer dropping their kids off at school with a police car parked out front? (…) He went on: “As a result, millions of our children go to school today, no longer the sitting ducks of the worst and most dangerous of all lies – gun-free zones. The news media, protected by their own armed security, will never admit it, but today, millions of children are safer for one reason: the NRA. The overwhelming majority of Americans agree with the simple truth that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The politicians and the media be damned!”

Thousands of children have died of gunshot injuries in their own homes since the Sandy Hook shooting because LaPierre and the gun lobby has convinced them that guns in the home will protect them from evil lurking around every corner. LaPierre’s claims that the media savaged him is ridiculous. If they criticized him, it was for good reason. His words ring false.

You just can’t make this stuff up. The overwhelming majority of Americans actually do NOT agree that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In fact the majority of Americans agree that we should require background checks on all gun sales to prevent some of our shootings.

We can only guess at what LaPierre meant by the last line in the highlighted paragraph above- more of the same angry rhetoric that means nothing.

We are better than this and we’ve had #enough of the ugly lying rhetoric. This is about saving lives.

 

 

A deadly week-end in Minnesota

warning signWarning- guns are hazardous to your health and safety. What about this have we failed to recognize or understand? It’s a conundrum but I do believe the public at least is beginning to pay attention. And if I and others keep alerting the public and our politicians about the dangers of guns and lax gun laws, something just has to change, doesn’t it? One thing I know is that we can work to change the politicians if they don’t change their resistance to gun safety reform measures. In just Minnesota alone in the past few days, we have had carnage and mayhem in our homes and streets.

In my last post, I wrote about the murder/suicide of a 5 member family in a suburb of the Twin Cities of Minnesota. This incident is much talked about, as you can imagine. Not only is it a domestic shooting, it is a murder/suicide and it is a mass shooting. 5 are dead. The Gun Violence Archive site is keeping track of these incidents. Thank goodness somebody is doing this because the corporate gun lobby doesn’t want the public or politicians to have a real understanding of the scope of the gun violence in our country.

According to someone at that site who posted on a page of which I am a member, there have been 400 murder/suicides in 2015. That’s more than one per day. If this isn’t enough to make your hair stand on end, I don’t know what is.

And then, over the week-end 10 people were involved in shootings in 2 separate places in Minneapolis. One is dead, the others injured. If that wasn’t enough there was another murder/suicide in western Minnesota involving two men.

And we’re not done yet. A man in his 90s shot and killed his own son in a Twin Cities suburb. More details are coming but the man is being held in jail at this time.

Shots were fired in Rochester, MN over the week-end and after a brawl in downtown Duluth..The police didn’t buy the shooter’s claim of self defense. Guns and alcohol don’t mix.

By my count, that’s 9 dead, 9 injured and 2 incidents of gun fire where no one got hurt. And that’s all in a few days’ time. Stunning and total lunacy.

So, what’s the solution to this public health and safety epidemic? We should begin with common sense. And we need to fight the mistaken and misleading assertions by the corporate gun lobby. It’s time to be strong and fight back with the facts, tell real stories about gun violence and expose the nonsensical arguments of the NRA and others in the gun lobby. A blog post from Mike the Gun Guy encourages those involved in gun violence prevention to take off the gloves. When lives are at stake and shootings are taking the lives of so many people, being polite about it doesn’t change anything. We need to be noisy and insist that our voices are heard. Time to get to work. Are you with me?

Minnesota mass shooting

cryingMany people are crying in Minnesota. Why? There has been another mass shooting in our state. We’ve had others. We had the Accent Signage shooting ( the 3rd anniversary is coming on Sept. 27th ). We’ve had the Red Lake school shooting. This time, 5 members of one family shot and killed in a murder/suicide.

The father in a family of five found dead in their Greenwood home Thursday shot and killed his wife and three teenage children before turning the gun on himself, sources told the Star Tribune Friday.

Brian Scott Short, 45, killed his wife, Karen Anne Short, 48; and his three children, Cole, 17; Madison, 15, and Brooklyn, 14, in their mansion near Lake Minnetonka, the sources said. (…)

The South Lake Minnetonka police came upon the “unspeakable” scene while checking on the welfare of the family, whose members had not shown up for work or school for a couple of days. The five bodies bore traumatic injuries and were scattered throughout the large house on Channel Drive.

And what do people say? It was such a nice family. I can’t believe this happened in our peaceful suburban neighborhood. He seemed like such a good guy. How could this have happened? Yes. It happens. It’s America- the land of mass shootings. There has been one almost one a day this year. Many are not high profile like the Charleston shooting or the Aurora theater shooting or Sandy Hook. They are found in local media sources. They are often domestic in nature and often involve a murder/suicide. They happen because of the availability of guns not seen in any other first world country in the world.

In my last post I wrote about the high number of gun suicides in our country. In Minnesota it’s 80%. I wrote in the post before last about my friend who was coming from Vermont for our class reunion. Her husband shot and killed himself. He had some mental illness and had been struggling with it for years. I had a chance to talk to her about his death. As it turns out, my friend was also involved in a school shooting in the small school in Vermont where she taught. One was killed. It was a domestic shooting. The shooter came to shoot his girlfriend at the school where she worked.

Have we had enough of this insanity? When will it be enough? When can we talk about gun violence and the affect it has on our families and communities? When will we come to our senses?

At my class reunion, many know about the work that I do and are supporters. One man wanted to talk to me. He is a gun owner- a hunter. He got his permit to carry just because but he doesn’t carry a gun ever. He target shoots and he owns 10 guns.He believes in background checks for all guns sales and thinks we ought to have licensing and registration. He told me that he would give up his guns if that is what it takes to stop the insanity.

Where is common sense? It turns out that it’s everywhere but in the halls of Congress and our state houses. And that is just one problem. The rest is due to a gun culture that has spiraled out of control. When did this start my friend wanted to know? How did we get this way? Was it September 11th, 2001? Was it the election of President Obama? Is it the uptick of the fear and paranoia spewed by the gun rights extremists and the political far right? Is it the need for profit for the gun industry as sales decreased so passing new permit to carry laws or letting the assault weapons ban makes people think they must have shiny new guns?

I’m not sure. I just know that when we have this many mass shootings, something is terribly wrong. It’s senseless and tragic. Now a whole family is dead and the grief and affects of this are far reaching into the family of the victims and the entire community. Something needs to change.

I will end with this quote from the linked article:

“It is with great regret and a very heavy heart that I have to share some very sad news with you. There is no easy way to say this. … Brian and his family have been killed. The news is calling it an apparent murder-suicide. … No matter what the details are, the results are still the same … a very tragic loss for the extended families, friends, co-workers and this nursing community.”

UPDATE:

This follow-up Star Tribune article indicates that there were possible mental health and financial problems that could have contributed to the shooting deaths of the Minnesota family.

I would also like to add that one of my readers commented with an answer to my questions about how did we get to where we are now? It was 1977 in Cincinnati at an NRA meeting when a group who wanted to turn the organization into a lobby group instead of a group to support hunting sport:

In gun lore it’s known as the Revolt at Cincinnati. On May 21, 1977, and into the morning of May 22, a rump caucus of gun rights radicals took over the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.

The rebels wore orange-blaze hunting caps. They spoke on walkie-talkies as they worked the floor of the sweltering convention hall. They suspected that the NRA leaders had turned off the air-conditioning in hopes that the rabble-rousers would lose enthusiasm.

The Old Guard was caught by surprise. The NRA officers sat up front, on a dais, observing their demise. The organization, about a century old already, was thoroughly mainstream and bipartisan, focusing on hunting, conservation and marksmanship. It taught Boy Scouts how to shoot safely. But the world had changed, and everything was more political now. The rebels saw the NRA leaders as elites who lacked the heart and conviction to fight against gun-control legislation. (…)

What unfolded that hot night in Cincinnati forever reoriented the NRA. And this was an event with broader national reverberations. The NRA didn’t get swept up in the culture wars of the past century so much as it helped invent them — and kept inflaming them. In the process, the NRA overcame tremendous internal tumult and existential crises, developed an astonishing grass-roots operation and became closely aligned with the Republican Party.

Today it is arguably the most powerful lobbying organization in the nation’s capital and certainly one of the most feared. There is no single secret to its success, but what liberals loathe about the NRA is a key part of its power. These are the people who say no.

And the rest is the result of how we got to where we are today.